Authorities are in talks with United States drugmaker Pfizer to facilitate domestic manufacturing of Paxlovid, a COVID-19 treatment, to help meet demand in China, a medical expert said on Wednesday.
Wang Guiqiang, head of the infectious disease department at Peking University's First Hospital, said that the latest COVID-19 control protocol includes five antiviral medications for the disease.
Among them, oral pills are in high demand as China is promoting the use of such drugs during the early stage of an infection to reduce the number of severe cases.
Pfizer said on Wednesday that the company and Huahai Pharmaceutical in China are actively promoting the Paxlovid localization project to ensure the supply of the medicine in the Chinese market.
Wang confirmed that the talks are ongoing when asked about the subject at an event organized by the China Public Diplomacy Association. In addition to Paxlovid, Wang said, the domestically developed Azvudine treatment has already been used. Molnupiravir, a COVID-19 drug developed by US pharmaceutical company Merck that gained market approval in China on Dec 30, is not yet in use.
Separately, the fact that Paxlovid is not included on the reimbursement list covered by the national insurance system would not affect China's supply of treatments against COVID-19, an official said on Wednesday.
Huang Xinyu, an official with the National Healthcare Security Administration, said while it is a pity that Paxlovid didn't make it onto the reimbursement list, it would still be temporarily covered by national medical insurance until March 31.
The list also included over 600 types of medicine for cold and fever, meaning that patients would still have a wide variety of alternatives to choose from, Huang said.